Interview: Laura Hilton-Smith's 'The Museum of Japan' Project

If you've read either of our print magazines, then the name Laura Hilton-Smith may ring a bell.  We fell in love with Laura's beautiful hand-drawn Japan themed illustrations back in 2015 and featured her 'Japan Looks Like' 'zine in issue 1.  She also did some beautiful sake food pairing illustrations for issue 2.

Well, Laura's now back with a new project; 'The Museum of Japan', and we're excited to share it with you today!

Hi Laura, can you tell us a little bit about your project and what inspired it?

At the moment I'm  working on a project called 'Museum of Japan' in which I'm using archival methods to catalogue and store items that I brought back from my last trip to Japan. I'm interested in the idea that I can store and preserve my memories of that trip and of Japan through these objects.   I'm also interested by the idea that these mundane objects can become exotic and treasured because of their connection with a country that holds a fascination for so many people including myself. 

What sorts of things do you have in your collection?

The items in my collection include things like tickets, receipts, paper bags, sweet wrappers, leaflets and some sound recordings. I purposely chose throwaway disposable objects as, for me, they hold the closest associations with everyday Japan and how it feels to live there, however briefly.

Any favourites?

I have around 140 items in my collection collected from many of the places that I visited in and around Yokohama but I think my favourite objects would be either the receipts or the sound recordings.  The receipts contain so much information about what we bought, from where and even at what time and the recordings instantly whisk me back to Japan whenever I listen to them.

What are your next steps for the project?

I'm working on a book to accompany the collection and I'd like to exhibit my 'artefacts' one day too but in the meantime I've created an online catalogue of all my items I hope that other fans of Japan will enjoy browsing through the collection and reminiscing about their own visits.

You can read more about Museum of Japan and explore the online catalogue on Laura's website here.   If you have a similar collection of Japan related items then Laura would love to hear from you - so do get in touch via her website.  You can also connect with Laura over on Instagram: @itsumojapan